MAGPIE'S MUMBLINGS

A blog about my interests, which include crazy quilting and various and assorted other artsy pursuits and sometimes known to contain mumblings of a random nature.

Monday, December 31, 2007

TA DAH! TAST Weeks 51 and 52

I know, two posts in one day - what is this world coming to? However - I finished the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge this afternoon and have to get it posted before the year changes!! Week 51 is the Chained Bar (shown at the top)....love this stitch! I used it here to couch down some ric rac and can see where it would be very useful couching down pretty much everything. Week 52 is the Spanish Feather Stitch - another one that is new to me but I like very much. It took me a few minutes to get onto it, but it's certainly one I will use again.

Extreme thanks go out to SharonB ( http://sharonb.wordpress.com) for all her hard work finding and photographing stitches for us to play with all year long. It must have been an incredible lot of effort for her and I want her to know how very much I appreciate all she does. I have learned so much since discovering her site and know that I will continue to do so. Thanks Sharon!

Happy 2008 to all!

I think I am finally rousing myself from the turkey/chocolate stupor of Christmas and actually feel somewhat like accomplishing something today! I have weeks 51 & 52 of TAST to do, so hope to get on that later today.

The past few days I have just vegged out with my nose either in a book (quite literally) or staring vacantly into space, eating the odd bon bon (because we all know they have expiry dates and have to be eaten up, up, up!). Actually have read three books in two days - two by James Patterson and 'For One More Day' by Mitch Albom. As I expected, 'Day' now resides in my top ten list of favourite books. Last night I started 'Bleachers' by John Grisham and expect to finish it sometime today.

January has always been a month of a combination of reading and cleaning for me. I guess I inherited the cleaning urge from my mother, because she always did what she called a 'T-10' (translated to mean THROW IT OUT) in January. There was never a spring or fall housecleaning when I was growing up, but watch out in January.! If you stood still for too long, you were liable to be out with the trash.

I've signed up for two new experiences in 2008 and am really looking forward to them. Arlee is running a round robin entitled 'Exquisite Corpse' which is sounding really fun. SharonB has another fibre challenge running for the year on her blog and, because I had so much fun with TAST I've signed on to do that too. I have plans to do a lot more crazy quilting in 2008 and a lot more in the creative-artsy line too. I hope to continue using up my stash and trying very hard not to buy everything new thing I see, because most of the time it just gets stored somewhere and never used.

As for New Years resolutions...nada. Don't believe in them, at least for me, because I know full well it won't last. The only wish I have for the new year is that all my friends have a happy, healthy and safe year. Thank you for all the lovely comments you've made on my blog over the past year - I treasure all of them and appreciate your interest.

Happy 2008 to you and yours!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Groan, Burp, Gasp...oh WHY?????

Why oh why does Christmas seem to entail eating far far too much? And why are we left with (horrors) leftovers that need to be eaten too? Why do things like Christmas stockings contain chocolate - crying out to be eaten? Why is there baking, baking, baking? It's all crying my name. Trouble is my size 16 jeans are crying too, despite the fact the label said they were 'stretch' jeans. Hah. They lie.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Christmas to all!

Christmas is rapidly approaching and I think my computer time will be severely limited, so this will be my last post until next week sometime.

Our festivities will be interesting this year. We start by collecting Son#2 on the night of the 21st. His girlfriend and her parents will be arriving on the 23rd. Her parents are from France and speak about as much English as we do French (none!). That should make things fun! Christmas day we will have my DH's brother and son, along with our friends, who originally come from Austria and England. We'll have a league of nations! Then we take Son#2 back on Dec 26th (Carole & her parents will leave then too) and trade him for Son#1- who has to work on Christmas day. We'll have him home until the 28th. His girlfriend will be spending Christmas with her father, so we'll be having another Christmas celebration with her sometime in January. Whew! Lots of festivities (AND food!!) for us.

I sincerely hope you and yours will have a blessed, happy and healthy Christmas. Stay safe.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

TAST - Weeks 49 and 50


Wow, it's hard to get my head around the fact that the TAST challenge is nearly over! Sharon posted the last two stitches already to finish off the year. But, but, but...I'm not ready for it to be over!!!!! I've had so much fun learning new stitches and playing with old friends and am quite proud that I actually stuck with it for the whole year.
The two stitches I'm showing here are the Pistol Stitch (week 49) on the top half of the sample, and Berry Stitch (week 50) on the bottom of the sample. These were both fun to work. I hope to complete the final two either tomorrow or between Christmas and Jan. 1.
A huge thank you to Sharon who is so generous to us all. She so willingly shares her stitching knowledge, which is quite extensive, believe me. http://sharonb.wordpress.com and if you're interested in checking out her challenge for 2008 http://sharonb.wordpress.com/take-it-further-challenge/

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas tree


Here's a couple of pictures of our Christmas tree. Clicking on it should bring it up larger so you can see more detail of some of the ornaments.
Yesterday we had a huge snow storm and people were certainly spending a lot of time digging out from under today. Jack spent the better part of the day gone with the snowblower trying to clear some driveways so people can get out. I sure hope we don't get another big storm anytime soon, because I really don't know where some people will put any more snow. We saw one car today that had been foolishly left on the street overnight and it's pretty much totally buried by the snowplow. That'll teach whoever it was to leave their car out in a big storm!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Presents and Slow Crafting




Today I have three pictures. I know, I'm getting carried away! However, I want to show you the gifts I've received in the past couple of days. One of my friends knitted me the pretty hanger cover. I've seen covers of course, but this is the first knitted one I've come across. Isn't it pretty?
The other two gifts are from another friend. The little pillow is pretty self-explanatory. The christmas tree object is actually a little sleigh which I've filled with antique VERY fragile ornaments which were from my mother-in-law. It is sitting in the centre of my dining room table and looks quite festive.
Slow Crafting - what's that you ask? Well, there's a discussion right now on SharonB's site (http://sharonb.wordpress.com ) about doing crafts slowly as opposed to the quickest means possible to get the end result. I thought I'd weigh in with my two cents on the subject here rather than taking up room in Sharon's comments. There is a decided difference of opinion concerning which is better/more artistic - the use of machines as opposed to doing everything by hand. I will focus on embroidery, since that is what I'm most familiar with. There are wonderful machines out there now where you basically can just push a button and turn out exquisite pieces with a minimal of fuss. Now before you machine people get upset with me, I do know there's more to it than that and it's just not as simple as pushing a button! I, however, am a lover of hand work as much as possible. That's just me and I can certainly appreciate the other viewpoint too.
I will admit that I use my plain ol' sewing machine for the actual piecing of crazy quilt blocks. I'm not THAT gung-ho with hand work that I would spend my time doing my piecing that way. However, when it comes to the embroidery, that's when I love working with my hands. I love being able to sit down and relax with my work. I like the quiet moments to be able to think, perhaps even meditate. I like the fact that it's portable. Not having to be tied to a machine means I can work pretty much anywhere. I like the slightly uneven look of handwork as opposed to the perfection that a machine provides. I like the history of it - my ancestors worked by hand and it's something that makes me feel a certain kinship with them.
I'm not really interested in being able to produce 'numbers' of projects, because I get much more pleasure from the process. Not that I have anything against finishing something! I love to make gifts for people and, to me, it means much more if the time (which is equal to love) goes into it. On the other hand, there are times when I need to do things assembly line in order to meet a deadline and therefore I must go for speed and the use of machines.
I'm the same way with knitting. I once had a knitting machine and gave up on it very quickly. I very much prefer the slower process of hand knitting (and I am an extremely SLOW knitter!). There are beautiful things being done on the machines and I am one of the first to admit it, but I still like the hand work. Just my opinion!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Knitting bag finished

I just finished this today and have it wrapped already. That's the last handmade gift for this year!! Hooray.

A footnote to yesterday's post - I was totally unaware that white Christmas cactuses (cacti?) were rare. Now I have another reason to appreciate it! Thanks for leaving a comment to let me know.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

That * * * * Plant!!


I don't remember if I told this story last Christmas, and if I did I'm sorry to repeat myself. However, I have enough new readers so I think its ok to present it again.
The top picture shows a white Christmas cactus in full bloom in my dining room and the second picture shows its baby. The 'story' behind this is that my mother hated (with a passion) white flowers - a fact that was well known by everybody. Jack (my DH) had established a tradition of getting her a plant of some nature for Christmas. One year he spied this white (horrors!!) cactus and just HAD to buy it for Mom. Of course she opened it on Christmas Day and through what were obviously gritted teeth, thanked him. She dutifully hung the plant in the living room window, quite hopeful it would expire sooner rather than later. Of course it didn't and bravely bloomed at least twice a year. Each time I would get the same phone call "You know that damn plant? It's blooming - again".
This went on for several years until finally Mom decided she had enough of it and flatly refused to water it. Yep - you guessed it "You know that damn plant? It's blooming - again". When Mom passed away it was the only plant I kept and it blooms faithfully for me too. Now it has babies that are blooming too! It will be known as That Damn Plant for evermore.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas decorations and Pillow



The pictures today are of the pillow I just finished making and of our creche which sits on top of our dining room cabinet. I bought the creche, piece by piece, from Avon when I was a rep and it's one of my most treasured Christmas things. Above you can see a picture of our boys when they were little and to the right you can just catch a glimpse of my antique light which was formerly a coal oil lamp.
Today I finished up the last of the handmade presents and got some more wrapping done. I had to clear off some of the mess from my worktable (!) so that I could get room to run the sewing machine. Don't worry...it'll be back being a huge mess again by this time tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Interesting purchase

When I was in our local fabric store yesterday I happened across this pattern and was intrigued by the 'purse' in the middle. I'm not interested in it as a purse, but wouldn't it be a perfect cradle for an art doll??

I got a few more parcels wrapped today but won't bother showing you a picture of that! I also have the knitted pillow pretty much done and hopefully will be able to show you the end result in the next couple of days.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Drowning!

Tell me, how on earth can a person be expected to accomplish anything in this mess? This is the view in only one area of my workroom too so you can just imagine what I'm living with!

I'm definitely going down for the last time.....

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ummmm.....

...does spending the day shopping for stocking stuffers, wrapping presents, and painting a picture frame count as a blog entry?

I thought not.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Letter 'K' - Yet More Knitting Content

Wow, two days in a row I'm talking about knitting!!

Today I'll visit the letter K, which leads me directly into knitting. It's not something I can say I'm good at (yet) but I'm getting better with practice. At least I've reached the point where if I make a mistake the chances are now 50/50 that I'll not have to rip it all out and start again!

Here's a number of good sites for free patterns which you might like to visit if you're not already familiar with them:

- www.knitomatic.com/freebies.html This is a Canadian site and lots of free patterns are available here

- http://oldmillknitting.com/retail.htm This site lists a large number of yarn shops, mainly in Canada with links to those that have web sites.

- http://www.knittingpatterncentral.com/directory.php Lots and lots of free patterns available through this site!

- www.charitablecrafters.org/knitting.htm Again, all sorts of free patterns.

- www.LionBrand.com A wonderful resource with tons of free patterns and really good knitting instructions

- also, if you Google search a particular brand of yarn, the chances are quite good that they have a site and more than likely have free patterns using their yarns

Knitting blogs:
- http://masondixonknitting.com This blog is written by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shaye who are the authors of Mason Dixon Knitting

- http://the-panopticon.blogspot.com This one is written by a male knitter, with a sense of humour

- www.yarnharlot.ca The infamous Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, hilarious author of At Knit's End; Yarn Harlot - The Secret Life of a Knitter; Knitting Rules!; and Stephanie-Pearl McPhee Casts Off. I believe she has a new book due out in the spring with another to follow next fall and, quite possibly, a calendar too.

AND - ANOTHER K, but not knitting related is http://kittyandmedesigns.blogspot.com Pam is a prolific embroiderer and does the most beautiful things. Well worth checking her out on a daily basis!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Knitting content? This blog has knitting content?

Who knew? Actually I *have* been knitting, but it's things that I can't show here at the moment. This I can show. It's the Bespoke Pillow from the Holiday 2007 issue of Interweave Knits - Holiday Gifts magazine. Unfortunately the colour of the wool isn't coming through properly in the picture, but it's a soft olive-y green which will go with their decor. I'm about half done.

For those of you who don't have the magazine, the top and bottom of the pillow are done in seed stitch, with St st in the middle - which in turn gets duplicate stitched with his initials. This is for a friend who just got his first lazy boy chair which is crying out for a special pillow.

Monday, December 03, 2007

TAST - Weeks 47 and 48 and 'J'

Here are my efforts for weeks 47 and 48 for the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge. Week 47 was the thorn stitch, which is quite fun to do. I can certainly see the use of this stitch to make trees, but I also love it for couching because it adds a bit more texture to whatever you are couching on. Like this stitch!

Week 48 is the Knotted Cable Chain stitch, also new to me. It took a bit of work for me to get into the rhythm of the stitch but once I did, I liked it. Both of these stitches are ones I will do again, with pleasure.

Today I will also visit the letter 'J'. I thought long and hard about what I could talk about that involved that letter and realized the bestest thing is Jack - my husband of 27 years. What can I say, other than he's the most wonderful present I ever got. We actually met around Christmastime about 29 years ago - his sister introduced us. It didn't take me long to realize he was 'the one', but he resisted mightily. He's fourteen years older than I so he had this problem with believing he was too old for me. It took some doing to convince him otherwise!! He treats me like a queen. He cooks, he cleans - what more could I ask for!

Further on the letter 'J' - how about the jobs I've held over the years?
- I began when I was 14 with volunteering at the little local library, doing typing, filing and such. Had to ride my bike about 5 miles to get to the library, so I must have been dedicated.
- in high school I worked for the head of the commercial department doing typing, which led to a few short-term placements throughout grade 12 at various businesses. I actually spent about as much time out of school as I did in.
- I graduated at 16 and immediately got a job as a secretary at a new high school which was opening that September. I worked half days as the person who did most of the printing/duplicating for the school and the other half days as the secretary in the library. It was quite stressful because they really needed a full-time person doing the printing and I ended up working most of my lunch hours and staying late to keep caught up. The day they told me they were planning to add doing the secretarial work for the guidance office was the day I quit. Funny thing, they had to hire two people to do what I was doing before I left!
- from there I worked as a secretary for an insurance adjuster, which was a job I loved. Unfortunately the work load slackened and it came down to the boss keeping his wife on or me. You can guess which one he had to let go.
- then began my work in the CIBC (which was known as the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce then). First I worked in a tiny little branch in my hometown and then transferred to a much larger branch in the city. That was just about the time that Jack and I were beginning to date and decided to get married. So...I transferred back to the town I live in now and worked there for four and a half years putting all my earnings into our first house. Once the mortgage was paid off, I quit in order to raise our sons.
- once the boys were in school full time I took over an established route with Avon and did that for about eight years building my business up to over a hundred customers. It was exhausting doing all the running and it seemed I spent most of my life in the car. Once the boys left home, I quit and have been enjoying staying home ever since.

There, that probably constitutes too much information about me!!